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Culture Lust Weekend: Voices in Wonderland, Severe Clear, and the 83rd Annual Rummage Sale

You may be losing an hour of precious shut-eye this weekend, but there's plenty of arts in San Diego to fill the rest of your waking hours, including a visit from Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. My vote? The San Diego Latino Film Festival has an embarrassment of film riches.

ART

LA Times photo-journo Don Bartletti won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his images documenting the plight of Central American immigrants (“Enrique’s Story”). Next Wednesday at 7 p.m., he’ll return to his S.D. stomping grounds when he visits the MoPA to share his snapshots and anecdotes at “The Good, The Bad, and the Frickin’ Amazing.”

Sculptor Nancy Rubins’ locally-iconic permanent installation, “Pleasure Point,” bedecks the outside of MCASD La Jolla; a new exhibit, "Pleasure Point: Celebrating 25 Years of Contemporary Collectors" pays tribute to it and decades worth of the museum’s acquisitions. The show includes portraits, photographs, video, and mixed-media installations from the likes of Cindy Sherman, John Sonsini, Robert Colescott and more.

It’s no secret that S.D.’s art scene is flourishing (see above), and the National Endowment for the Arts will bear witness to that this weekend with a visit from Chairman (and former Broadway producer) Rocco Landesman. Stop by the La Jolla Playhouse this Saturday at 2pm when he'll host a public forum, featuring prominent artists and art advocates.

Even if you’re over the media’s current Burton binge, this should still sound appealing: more than 20 artists, including locals Mark Richmond and Todd Sanders, will present pieces inspired by the director’s latest flick and the Lewis Carrol original during “Voices in Wonderland” at the Blonde Martini this Saturday. Live music from Stealing Love Jones, a circus act, and a bottomless vodka bar will also be on offer (now that’s what we call a very important date…)

Yoga acronauts in blacklight-ignited costumes, glow-in-the-dark models, and fluorescent Buddha heads? Nope, it’s not Burning Man – it’s the Oceanside Museum of Art’s ongoing Art after Dark series, "InfoTopia: Feed the Art Side of Your Brain." Stop by from 7-10 p.m. to observe all of the incandescent action.

Muse away and possibly earn some cash at the S.D. Library’s Payday Poetry Slam. The all-ages event, which offers, as the title suggests, a handsome reward (and a few door prizes), takes place at the City Heights Performance Annex this Friday at 7:00 p.m. Required? Three original 3-minute poems – and some chutzpah.

The world before the west was won is on display starting tonight at the San Diego History Center. Their new exhibit, "Faces of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits 
from the American West," boasts more than 100 original portraits of some of the wild west’s most prolific (and notorious) trailblazers, from Annie Oakley to Teddy Roosevelt. It’s on display ‘till June 6.

THEATER

The sexy flight attendant is as common a cliché, as, say, the mile high club, and the Old Globe’s latest production, "Boeing-Boeing" features a man who beds not one, but three, and then proposes to them (all of them!). Obviously, antics ensue (this guy needs to take notes from Tiger Woods.) The play’s sneak preview opens this weekend; the show runs ‘till April 18.

A world premiere stage reading of James Sherman's new play "Jacob and Jack" takes place on Monday night only at San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center. Sherman has some pedigree comic roots, starting his career as a writer/performer at Second City in Chicago. His plays often explore Jewish religious and cultural identity.

We were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek of the S.D. Opera’s production of "Romeo and Juliet" last night, and, for lack of another superlative, it was hot. Think pretty people, extravagant costumes, superb vocals and real chemistry (the leads are married off-stage, too). Don’t miss its debut this weekend.

The Ion Theatre premieres “An American Duet” this Saturday, featuring two very different, equally affecting productions by playwrights Quiara Alegría Hudes and Yussef El Guindi. Hudes’ Pulitzer-nominated “Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue” focuses on the Puerto Rican-American voices of a 19-year-old soldier who’s just returned from Iraq, his father, a Vietnam vet, and his grandfather, who entertained his platoon in the Korean War with musical fugues. Meanwhile, El Guindi’s “Back of the Throat” zooms in on the military interrogation of a Muslim-American Man.

FILM

You’ve probably caught The Hurt Locker by now, but former Camp Pendleton Marine Mike Scotti chronicles his real-life war experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan in Severe Clear, screening next week. The back-story: Scotti, who was bound for a marine cruise in the Pacific, just happened to have a video camera with him when 9/11 struck. After being deployed to the Middle East, he documented his journey to Kuwait and eventually Baghdad, meshing his unedited footage with that of other marines when he returned. The results? See for yourself at the Gaslamp Theater.

Speaking of the Best Picture winner, the Birch North Park Theater will screen The Hurt Locker this Monday as part of its March Movie Series. The $10 ticket includes a complimentary bottle of brew and a 7:00 or 9:30 p.m. screening of the film.

With Oscar season officially over and a dismal forecast for opening movies this Friday, perhaps you buffs are better off heading to the Hazard Center to get your film fix. Yep, that’s right, the 17th annual Latino Film Fest will be staged there this weekend, featuring over 185 of the best, from T.J. to Chile (not to mention celebs and directors galore). Watch a few trailers here to get a sneak peek.

MUSIC

Fresh Sound is back again this Tuesday at Sushi, this time for its percussion series, featuring Bay Area-duo Scott Amendola and Wil Blades. The two will perform Duke Ellington’s “Far East Suite,” as well as a few psychedelic tunes of their own.

Ditch the green pint this St. Pat’s and get down with The Irish Sopranos, who’ll perform next Wednesday at the CA Center for The Arts in Escondido. The ladies will be joined by a pianist, and, of course, a traditional Irish fiddler.

If you’re going to visit the San Diego Latino Film fest (see “film”), why not make a weekend of it and visit S.D. High School’s fifth annual Mariachi Showcase? The performance happens this Friday at the Balboa Theatre, and even features a cameo from special guest Javier Rodriguez.

Did somebody say dance party? Beat goddess Little Boots will take over the turntables at El Dorado this Saturday, but you can also catch her onstage at The Casbah, with electro-pop up-and-comers Dragonette and Class Act on deck to open.

BOOKS

Lawrence Weschler is the esteemed (and New Yorker-approved) author of “Everything that Rises: a Book of Convergences” and the head of NYU’s New York Institute for Humanities. He’s been spending some quality time on the West Coast lately while researching at the Getty - visit the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library tonight at 7 in La Jolla to hear his thoughts on “A Defense of Loose-Synapsed Moments: Towards a Typology of Convergences." A mouthful, we know, but we're sure it will boil down to something interesting.

SHOP

Just call it the thrifting Super Bowl – this Saturday and Sunday, the Point Loma Thursday Club will stage its 83rd annual rummage sale at the Balboa Park Activity Center, featuring 22,000 square feet of sifting bliss, from collectibles to clothes. The line starts forming around midnight Saturday morning, so plan accordingly.

Picnic ‘neath the cherry trees this weekend, which are presently in full bloom at Balboa Park. To celebrate, the Japanese Friendship Garden is hosting its Cherry Blossom Festival this Saturday from 11a.m.-2 p.m., which, for $20, includes a tea ceremony, a Koto demonstration, arts and crafts and more.

FOOD

Attention, foodies: two new eateries have blipped our radar lately, and they couldn’t be more diverse (or delish). Hit up Bencotto in Little Italy’s new Q building for some chic Italian comfort food, or stop by The Wellington in Mission Hills for some Harris Ranch rib eye and a dirty Bombay martini (extra olives, please).

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